Friday, January 23, 2015

Mini-Review of "Team Seven" by Marcus Burke - Up From The Mean Streets of Milton, Massachusetts

Marcus Burke has written a largely autobiographical novel about growing up on the streets of Milton, Massachusetts, just south of rough Boston's Blue Hill Avenue and Mattapan Square. The strengths of this book are many. The author survived a troubled childhood and has found his way to an advanced writing community in a prestigious center of creative writing. He depicts his colorful cast of characters in ways that are clearly differentiated and memorable. He conveys with authenticity the Rafa-infused patois of his father, Eddie, and others in the family and neighborhood whose roots are Jamaican. In fact, his re-creation of those speech patterns is so authentic and so foreign to my ear that I had to slow down and pronounced the words on the page to understand what the character had said. And that seems to be part of the author's message. If you really want to understand what it was liking growing up on those streets, you will need to slow down, consciously choose to leave your comfortable world and enter into mine - sounds, sights and smells.

He creates a strong sense of place. As a Bostonian, I could relate to his descriptions of the Citgo sign near Fenway Park, the troubling trip over the Tobin Bridge to Lynn to meet his father's other family.

The author of "Team Seven" writes in a way that causes us to care about how the protagonist, Andre Battel, will escape from the downward sucking vortex that claimed many of his neighbors and family members. He speaks with a true and distinct voice, which makes him very much worth listening to.



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